No Contingency Plan in Nimba for COVID-19

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One of the abandoned border points in Ganta area, Zuamill Crossing Point was with no security on guard

In terms of setting up holding site in the county

Concern is rising about the capability of the Nimba County Health Team to contain any case of the Coronavirus that is gradually spreading in the country with about 14 cases and three deaths confirmed so far.

Up to now, no mechanism has been put in place in any of the populated cities in the county in terms of holding site to quarantine a suspected patient as it was during the Ebola in 2014.

Ganta City Mayor Amos Suah told the Daily Observer that the municipal authority is still waiting for the county health authority to provide instruction to identify a holding site for quarantine.

During the Ebola outbreak in 2014, a mechanism was put in place in Ganta and other parts of Nimba, and strong measures were instituted to contain and prevent the spread of the Ebola.  Ganta at the time was also hard-hit with the Ebola virus disease, as several people contracted and lost their lives from the virus.

At the same time, the political leaders of Nimba allotted US$100,000 from the Social Development Fund to fight the epidemic.

A portion of the money was used to purchase medicines, personal protective equipment (PPE) and the rest were used to set up a quarantine center on the compound of the Ganta United Methodist Hospital.

“We are yet to see any contingency plan from our local authority,” said Mr. Luogon Lah, head of NGOs Network in Nimba. “It is prudent to prepare now than to wait until things go offhand.”

Recently, the head of Nimba County Health Team, Dr. Saah, complained on a local radio about the lack of logistics to combat any situation relating to the Coronavirus.

He said the Kpain Holding Site and the Saclepea Comprehensive Health Center isolation unit were dilapidated, requiring renovation to withstand any tension in the event of a case of the COVID-19.

Social distancing is yet to be observed in GantaThe Daily Observer was told that the County Health Team does not even have good ambulance to swiftly respond to any emergency, and there is also a report of acute shortage of medical supplies facing the G. W. Harley Hospital in Sanniquellie, where the County Health Team is headquartered.

Nimba County has a population of over half a million and with several porous crossing points along Liberia’s borders with Guinea and the Ivory Coast, where the COVID – 19 cases are also on the increase according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

On March 30, 2020, about 13 persons, believed to be Christians returning from Conference in Guinea, secretly entered the country through one of the bordering points in Ganta.

The 11 Sierra Leoneans and two Nigerians were apprehended, but their status remains yet unknown.

Because of the lack of a holding site in Ganta, they were kept at the Bethel Church Compound while security and health authorities continued with an investigation.

Many of the border posts in Nimba are said to be abandoned by security, though the government has ordered monitoring of the borders.

Regarding the health protocols put in place by health authorities in the country, taxi drivers seem not to be observing them, but are carrying more than three persons in the back, while the streets and market places remain heavily crowded up with people.

People are purchasing their basic needs in preparation for any lockdown, but the question is, what mechanism does the government have in place to contain any outbreak in the rural areas?

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